Entertainment Magazine

Review #3082: The Good Wife 3.5: “Marthas and Caitlins”

Posted on the 25 October 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Written by Ted Humphrey
Directed by Felix Alcala

It’s fascinating to me how this show has spent three seasons building and expanding its world in all but one area. This episode touches on many of those unique aspects of that world and brings to light certain things about a character. The world Alicia is in the middle of is a cutthroat one, and perhaps what happened at the end of this episode will put her guard up.

Review #3082: The Good Wife 3.5: “Marthas and Caitlins”

She’s been the titular “good wife” for so long that one has to wonder whether she’s willing to get her hands dirty to get things done. Will is deeply entrenched in that world so she shouldn’t be so eager for him to have her back on some issues. After stumbling a bit on the previous three, this episode featured much of what I like about this series: political intrigue, legal manueverings that can impact a season, guest stars who can stir the pot, and very little of its weakest elements. They should do this more often, and this looks like the kickoff to something bigger.

I realize it’s not in the show’s budget to get big-name guest stars for every episode, but they do effectively deploy those guest stars into the plot. Here, we get the return of Colin Sweeney (Dylan Baker), who is instrumental to the Case of The Week. A key witness committed suicide before giving his testimony so Sweeney — the notorious wife-killer who likes Alicia — is the substitute witness because he had a business meeting with the witness who committed suicide. Predictably, Sweeney finds a way to use the case to get an advantage on Alicia and company. He demands his release and the two main legal teams find a way to get it done. It does involve Sweeney snitching on a fellow inmate so there’s some danger involved.

The fact that Sweeney had to think fast on his feet to get around a problem with the inmate’s initial reluctance to confess to a crime was well done. It doesn’t dumb down the character. In fact, it makes him more compelling. Now that Sweeney is free from prison, that’s almost a guarantee that the show will revisit him in time. It should also be noted that while Lockhart-Gardner and the SAO were forced to work together in this case, there is some tension involved, especially since Peter included the bit about the wire at the last minute without Alicia’s knowledge. Alicia wins so many of these cases so often that it’s an unexpected surprise to see that she doesn’t always know exactly what she’s doing.

Her propensity to win and feel comfortable with her current situation backfires on her with the little subplot of the assignment to hire a new first-year associate for the firm. Both of the candidates have their strengths and weaknesses so Alicia could have gone either way with the hire. I had thought the episode would let this play out through the hour, but the return of David Lee (who hasn’t been seen since the middle of last season) sped up her decision. I could see where the true decision would lie once Lee pointed out that Caitlin was his niece.

That Alicia didn’t get the hint showed us where her head space about the power of her job lies. When she gets blindsided by Caitlin’s hiring and her being undercut by Lee and the other partners, the first thing to do was to get Will’s side of the story. As I’ve written before, the series seems determined to show Will this season as a guy who only cares about the bottom line, no matter how many people get hurt. For him, the ends always justify the means. Look at how he got into a romantic relationship with Alicia, despite the fact that she was married at the time and has baggage.

Their romance is now interfering with the way they are conducting their professional lives, and this can only cause harm. It’s now revealed that Will pushed for Alicia’s hiring at the firm, similar to the power play that got Caitlin hired, so this could potentially drive a wedge between them. She has been warned by Celeste (who seems much more normal and more relatable than what was shown in her prior episodes) that Will always disappoints, and one wonders if Alicia will stop being so naive and heed that warning.

It’s ironic then that she calls Grace’s friendship with her tutor “unprofessional” in that conversation with the odd tutor. Does Alicia take her own advice and find a way to extricate herself from her complicated personal and professional entanglement? I can’t see how. I’ve consistently written of my distaste for any subplot involving Alicia’s kids in the past so I was glad they spent all of two scenes on it here. Grace’s situation would draw some sympathy if it weren’t for the fact that the show often dictates when she has friends. We see her now with her tutor because the plot demands it, and the tutor will be discarded in favor of the next “friend” she makes. Yes, her parents’ divorce and celebrity are contributing factors to this, but the show seems to want to pin it on her mother taking away something so that she has to be emotionally affected. I just didn’t buy it.

The episode also puts Eli in an area where he’s most effective: political wheeling and dealing. The gubernatorial campaign for Peter looks like it’s in its early stages here, but it’s interesting to see that other people on the outside world are aware that something’s amiss about Peter’s fractured marital situation. That’s just a powder keg that’s waiting to explode in Peter’s face if it’s used by his political opponents, and the collateral damage might get on Eli and Alicia as well. Eli’s smart and he can wiggle his way out of a sticky situation, but I get the sense he isn’t fully prepared for this since he doesn’t have all of the facts. We’ll have to wait and see what happens in the future. For now, the complication phase of the season looks to be underway and I fear that more trouble is coming everyone’s way.

Grade: 8/10


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